Thursday 29 November 2012

Irish Twins

I should receive my next scan update from SCI sometime today, Delhi time. In the meantime, I'm working on a presentation for tomorrow and hoping I will get some sleep before heading to the airport around 5:30am or so. At least, I will have a relaxing weekend, doing more organizing in preparing for the arrival of my baby girl in a couple of months. Sometimes I think I am still dreaming especially since I am also blessed with another baby from India.

It also has hit me recently that if all goes according to plan, I will be having "Irish twins". If each baby reaches full term, they will be born just over 5 months apart. I don't use the term "Irish twins" in disrespect but use it to refer to siblings born within twelve months of each other. As I repeat it again in my mind, I feel very blessed but also am very aware of how busy I will be as a single parent of three. Yet, I find this all quite exciting - ask me later in the year :) I will have to use my extraordinary organizational and planning skills!

Although 5 months is not a long time, I am happy that I will have that time in between baby #2 and baby #3. Yes, there are advantages of having twins born at or around the same time but I am happy that my son and I will get 5 months of bonding time with just baby #2. That's also enough time to get into a routine with baby #2 and just get back into the infant care swing of things. I appreciate baby #3 might throw that routine out the door but we'll cross that bridge if and when we get to it :)

Like most twins (Irish, identical, or fraternal), I assume these two will be close growing up. Not that there's anything wrong with it but I don't plan on dressing them alike. There's also less temptation to dress them alike because they may not look much alike given that they come from two different egg donors of different ethnicity.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Saturday 24 November 2012

Baby Girl Ultrasounds

I am entering into Week 31 with my surrogacy on home soil (and into Week 8 with my India surrogacy). All is well with my surrogacy here in Canada. My surrogate does not live in the same city but I still try to visit her and attend the doctor's appointments whenever I can especially if I am in her city on business.

I look at my pregnancy calendar and cannot believe how much time has gone by. People often ask if I am excited since the due date is fast approaching. I tell them I am but it's also a little different with your second one. Same level of excitement - woohoo - but just different. Also, because I plan on taking a full year off, I've been super uber beyond busy at work trying to not only get things done before I go on leave but also find (and ultimately train and culturize) my temporary replacement.

Anyway, it's all good. Here are a couple of ultrasound photos of my baby girl at 29 weeks - one is 2D and the other 3D. She was hiding quite a bit but the technician was still able to get a few good shots. This was my surrogate's second time getting a private ultrasound, and most likely our last. We have one final diagnostic ultrasound with our doctor at 36 weeks to check the baby's progress. We had asked for this because my son was 10 lbs 2 oz at birth (blame it on the Dutch genes) so if my baby girl is measuring similarly, there's a chance we will induce. At the last appointment, the doctor said she looks to be on track for 9 lbs plus. As long as she is healthy, that is all that matters.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Thursday 22 November 2012

Formula Feeding vs. Breastfeeding

This is always an interesting topic because everyone has an opinion on it and there's a lot of emotion around it as well. I will be bold enough to say that most of the emotionally delivered opinions are from the PRO-breastfeeding and ANTI-formula feeding people. After saying that, I respect that everyone has their own opinions about the topic even though I may not agree with them or even listen when their opinions are delivered in way similar to drill sergeants or bible-thumping pastors.

I'm not going to talk much about the pros and cons of what I call the "Boob versus Bottle" debate - you can find that information easily online. Instead, I will share my experiences as a parent of a formula-fed baby who is now turning 5 years old next month. I hope by sharing my experience, it will help relax anxious parents or parents-to-be with formula-fed babies (whether you have a choice or not) and assure your babies won't turn out to be stupid, unhealthy, ugly, unpopular burdens on society. God knows that there's a lot of finger-waving, preaching, fear mongering people out there who want to make you believe so and feel uber guilty.

I don't deny the benefits of breastfeeding. A plethora of reports and studies support that - and man, do I love studies as someone who has completed two degrees including a statistically heavy thesis with uber amounts of data and analysis. I openly admit that I am an information whore! Given this, if one decides to or has the opportunity to breastfeed (or use breast milk), I fully support that. After saying that, if one decides not to (I believe to each their own) or cannot provide breast milk (like many of us SCI clients), formula is just fine.

Keep in mind, even with studies, it's all about tendencies and probabilities. That's why you never see words like "will do this" but you see words like "can do this". For example, just because your baby receives breast milk, there's no guarantee that your baby won't have ear infections. It means breast milk can (not will) lower the occurrence of ear infections - you still have babies, who are given breast milk, develop ear infections. Breast milk may also protect children against allergies, asthma, diabetes, and obesity. But we all know children who were breastfed who have allergies, asthma, diabetes, and obesity. You get what I am saying. There are just so other factors that may contribute to these medical conditions, both environmental and genetic.

Yes, we want to give our babies a good start to life even if it's only a possibility and not a guarantee; however, if our babies don't get breast milk, it's not the end of the world. My son was formula fed since birth and he has never had an ear infection or many of the other cited medical conditions *knock on wood*. He was never sick as a baby, rarely sick as a toddler, and as a preschooler, he tends to be good as well even with the sick classmates (who their REALLY REALLY REALLY BAD parents willingly and knowingly drop off at school). You can probably guess my stance on this side issue :)

So again, I appreciate that breast milk can provide a good start but never think formula means that's it for your child. Formula can never replace breast milk but formula has come a long way. You are also not feeding your baby some toxin (although I'm sure some would disagree with me). In the end, I am not here to encourage or discourage the use of breast or formula milk when available. I am here to say that formula is just fine and that looking out for our children's health and safety does not just start and end at the baby stage - it continues for many years after that.

PS - I will add, for my son, I did try three brands before I found one that worked for him. Each brand also has different types (e.g., regular versus lactose-free). What you select just depends on your little one. This motivates me to bring different brands with me for baby pick-up if all progresses according to plan; however, I don't recall if the stores at Select Citywalk offers multiple brands for sale.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Monday 19 November 2012

Aren't You Single?

I've blogged before about why single parenting works for me but I wanted to blog about the not-so-serious side of being and becoming a parent as a single gay male. Honestly, this can be its own blog so I hope it won't be too long. The simple fact is that my certain aspects of my profile confuses different samples of the general population when you add "parent" to my profile. Where to begin?!? LOL!

Before I do start, I want to make it clear that, in general, most strangers and acquaintances are polite - they are more curious than anything else but sometimes they will throw in their unsolicited opinions. Nothing that bothers me really - I don't give unimportant people any power over my emotions. Also, I will not write much about why people get confused - there are so many reasons and this would become one heck of a long post and who wants to read a mega-long post :)

Let's start with the SINGLE aspect of my profile. Those who don't know I'm single, say "congratulations to you and your wife/partner" when they find out I'm having a child. But they get confused when I tell them, I'm single. For those who know I have a son, the majority assume I was once married - usually to a woman - and I have full custody of my son. So there's confusion when they find out that I am having another child. Then there are others (single, in a relationship, or married) who cannot imagine why I would want to choose to be a parent on my own.

Secondly, there's the GAY aspect of my profile. Here, I confuse both gay and straight people. Some straight people cannot imagine why a gay person would want kids. And yes, some straight people also believe a gay person should never have kids - that's yet another separate blog. On the flip side, some gay people cannot imagine why I as a gay male would want kids. Finally, the MALE aspect of my profile confuses some. Some people find it difficult to understand why parenting is so important to a male - only females have that innate desire to have and raise children.

Now throw these aspects together: SINGLE GAY MALE parent and boom, it's a ball of confusion :) The interesting thing is, becoming and being a parent is not confusing for me at all. It's crystal clear and just right. I feel my world is just perfectly how it should be. In fact, people's negative and illogical responses and reactions are the only confusing things to me but I don't logic the illogical. In the same breath, I do appreciate that everyone comes from different backgrounds and possesses different thoughts and emotions. It is what makes us human.

More confusion? Oh yes, when I add surrogacy into the mix = SINGLE GAY MALE pursuing SURROGACY, there's even more confusion because surrogacy is very new to many people or they only hear the bad surrogacy stories. Add to that people's personal opinions about surrogacy, and you have yet another separate blog :)

In the end, no matter what others might believe and say, no matter what you hear and read, you know your calling in life when you find it. The road may not be an easy one to fulfill that calling but that light at the end of the tunnel is what keeps us going and motivated to reach that dream. I hope everyone in SCI Land is doing well, whichever phase you are in with your journey!

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Saturday 17 November 2012

Leftover Frozen Embryos

With my current pregnancy on home soil, it was a result of implanting my final two frozen embryos, which had been frozen for about 5 years. Of course, I made the decision to pay 5 years of storage fees not knowing but hoping that I would try again for another child. My goal was to always have at least two children if so blessed otherwise one would have been perfectly fine. I know that siblings don't always get along but I really wanted my son to have a sibling who he could have the opportunity to continue growing with and reminisce about the past and re-live all the good memories. Yes, my son will have his cousins and hopefully a spouse but there's something special about sibling relationships when they work. In the end, I do not have to make the decision of what to do with any remaining embryos at my previous clinic because I have none.

With SCI, although it's early in the pregnancy with my little bean, it has crossed my mind what I will do with my 9 remaining frozen embryos if everything continues going according to plan. I could continue storing them especially if I'm not 100% sure that I'm done having kids although I think three children as a single parent (even with the support that I do have) at the age of 41 makes for a happy, busy, and fun life. There's also the financial considerations for some. But what if I decide not to continue storing them? The typical options include:

  • Donating them to research
  • Donating them to infertile couples (or a single person)
  • Discarding them
  • Combination of any of the above

One could discuss the ethical and moral considerations but ultimately, it is up to those who these embryos belong to. Some research studies do indicate that those who used donor eggs have a higher tendency to donate leftover frozen embryos, which makes sense. There are many thoughts and questions that go through my mind when I think about this - I'm sure those of you who are in the same boat share those same thoughts and questions. In the end, when the time comes for all of us who are faced with this decision, we will make the decision that is right for us.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Friday 16 November 2012

Heartbeat Scan Update

Right on schedule, I received an email from SCI. They sent it at 5:08am and something internal made me get up at 5:16am. I'm not an early bird by any means. So when I saw I had an email from them on my Blackberry - yes, not an iPhone user just yet - I held my breath, said my usual "what's meant to be, will be" in my mind, and opened the email.

To my surprise and delight, I finally saw my "rainbow" - the colourful email that I've seen other clients receive. The little bean is measuring 6w1d with a heart rate of 144 beats per minute. I'm very grateful to my surrogate M, Dr. S and her staff, and for the good news. I'm crossing my fingers that the positive news continues. The next scan is in two weeks - I can't believe December is just around the corner! PS - What makes this all even more special is that my Aussie Posse (C&T and N&S) are also pregnant. Yay for them! I hope I&D are doing well too!

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Thursday 15 November 2012

Britax Chaperone & B-Ready

I should receive some news soon regarding my surrogate's heartbeat scan. Until then, it's time to start thinking about getting an infant car seat and stroller for baby #2 on home soil. I still have my son's awesome Britax Marathon car seat (he is now in a Britax Parkway) but you can't carry the Marathon around like an infant car seat. I sold his old infant car seat some time ago - many car and booster seats have a useful life up to 6 years with some as high as 9 years. I also sold his stroller pretty early on, as he outgrew that pretty quickly. My son is currently around 46" tall and just shy of  his 5th birthday (at the time of this post). This time around, I have to think a bit more strategically, meaning that I might have two little ones 5 plus months apart... and I may not. I could borrow an infant car seat and stroller until I know for sure I will be having two (i.e., after the birth of baby #3 in India) but I need a new set anyway.

There are many awesome brands out there such as Graco, Chicco, and UPPAbaby to just name a few but as you can probably guess, I am a fan of Britax. Putting that aside, I reviewed double strollers and single strollers that can convert to a double, specifically looking at those that you can configure in several ways. In the end, I focused on single strollers that could convert into a double if required. This makes sense since I don't know if I will be blessed with a third child and do not want to use a double stroller with just one child in it.

Ultimately, I have decided on the Britax Chaperone and B-Ready Stroller. The Britax Chaperone has great features but the one that stands out for me is the quick-adjust harness system that allows you to adjust the height of the harness straps without having to detach the straps. It's a longer car seat so measure for fit. What is appealing about the B-Ready stroller is that it has over 14 configurations with the infant car seat and a second child seat (which you can use with an infant) sold separately. In the end, get what fits your current and/or future needs and what you find visually appealing that fits your budget - there are so many great choices out there.

PS - Britax has "free ride events" now and then, where you purchase a stroller and get a car seat for free. They also have other promotions throughout the year. But I assume other brands have similar promotions.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Friday 9 November 2012

USG Scan Result

As expected, SCI was right on schedule with the USG (ultrasonography) scan. This is no surprise as supported by my first visit to SCI. I was extremely impressed with how well-organized and well-coordinated the SCI office and Dr. S were and continue to be. I already had a sense that Dr. S and her staff were good-hearted people (no matter what you read out) but had little sense of their operations, procedures, processes, etc. plus I needed to see how things worked for myself. My first visit put closure to those questions quickly and positively.

Given the time difference, SCI emails me during the middle of my night so I usually read their emails first thing in the morning - sometimes I'm still a bit tired so I'm not sure if I am dreaming or not. Anyway, I was grateful to hear that the ultrasound revealed one pregnancy sac and now patiently wait for the heartbeat scan in a week or so. Crossing fingers that I continue to receive positive updates and news. Thank you to my fellow SCI clients who have sent and left me supportive and encouraging words - it's truly and greatly appreciated. Whether one already has children or not, we all can experience anxiety, disappointment, sadness, and hopefully and ultimately, happiness.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Thursday 8 November 2012

You Aussies are Lucky!

When it comes to baby items, there are some that are tried and true, and I stick to those items. However, for other baby items, there are a variety of choices out there, ranging from traditional to modern. I openly admit that I like splurging on the odd new/modern items, which are typically available in North America. However, there is one cool item that I recently came across that is not available in North America but it is available in Australia (as well as other countries) - luck you! It's the Nuna Leaf. I especially like that it's not motorized.

I have not given up on getting the Nuna Leaf but I might have to settle for the 4moms mamaRoo, which is available in North America. Although motorized, I do like the various types of motions it provides your little one. I already have the traditional manual push sleeper that sways as well as the traditional motorized swing. Having these options available will be handy with one baby on her way on home soil and possibly another from India. Plus I can also position these on different levels of the home without having to carry them around.

Of course, each baby is different so you just never know what your baby will like or not. My son always enjoyed his swing and especially his bouncer.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Tuesday 6 November 2012

2nd Beta Test

On Halloween, I received an email from SCI advising me that my FET resulted in a "weak positive" - specifically the beta value was 41. I was hoping for a higher number but knew that this number didn't mean much - the critical value would be the second beta result.

On November 2, I received another email from SCI. I took a deep breath before opening up the email. My heart sank a little when I didn't see the colourful email that SCI is now known for when advising clients of a positive pregnancy. However, as I read on, I was happy to read that the beta value had increased to 112.4.

Although that is promising, I remain cautiously optimistic mainly because - and yes this will sound illogical - of the lack of colour in their email. I wonder, do they send those colourful emails only for first beta tests? Does the clinic feel 112.4 is still low or hasn't increased enough? Even with my past experience with beta testing and numbers, these questions still pop into my mind. But I appreciate that when you especially want something so badly, it's normal to have these concerns and question things. Don't get me wrong - I'm thankful for the increasing beta value. But I look forward to the scan (which should be some time this week) to determine the number of pregnancy sacs. Hoping for the best!

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Saturday 3 November 2012

While I Wait

While I wait to see the progress of the FET with SCI, baby #2 on home soil has entered her third trimester as we enter Week 28. Things are busy with work as the year comes to an end and I prepare to take a year off from work. I have several projects to complete in addition to the day-to-day tasks and requests, six work trips between this weekend and early December, and of course, hiring and on-boarding a replacement.

On the home front, I am slowly preparing and making my checklist. Although this is my second child, it's been almost 5 years since my son was an infant. The good thing is that I am generally an organized individual who does not like visual clutter so there's actually not much to do on the home front. Renovating and extending the house last year really helped with that. Nonetheless, there's still some work to do such organizing (and donating) my son's older toys, going through his baby clothes for unisex items that the new baby can wear, preparing baby spaces, and just ensuring I have all the normal baby items. 5 years is not a short time so I don't have everything that I used to and some things need replacing.

Socially, the calendar is busy in November and December with year-end/seasonal work parties and lunches, birthdays (i.e., my son's 5th birthday, brother's birthday, BFF's birthday), dinner parties like tonight, etc. With everything happening, I am very grateful that I live a drama-free life with wonderful drama-free friends and family members. I really only had one big dream in life and that was to live a happy life surrounded by wonderful people including a family of my own. I believe I am living my dream. On a side note, a life partner has never been necessary but that is another story that requires a blog of its own - LOL!

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!